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Fear of dentists can turn into a phobia

17th January 2011

Fear of dentists is turning into a fully-blown phobia for some patients.

Dentist Chair

And it has now emerged that dentophobia is a common affliction.

Figures show that about 12% of people suffer from extreme dental anxiety and the British Dental Association says that 25% of people suffer at least some anxiety when visiting the dentist.

London-based dentist Dr Jennifer Pinder has been treating dental phobic patients for over 30 years and believes the best approach is to find out what the nature of the phobia is and then deal with it in a sensitive and sympathetic way.

Fears include concerns over the drill, a fear of gagging, needles or pain.

She said: “People keep saying it’s irrational, but phobias are actually a rational reaction to pain and fear.”

To help her phobic patients, Dr Pinder uses a new implement called The Wand, which covers the needle and controls the speed at which the flow of anaesthetic is given to the patient. She finds it helpful for needle phobes and pain phobes.

Dr Pinder also believes a new device which cancels out the anxiety-provoking drill noise will help patients.

Consultant psychologist Dr Paul Blenkiron from York said that people with needle phobias needed to face their fear in a gradual way, often using cognitive behaviour therapy in an approach that is all about changing the patient’s thinking and behaviour.

Paul Salkovskis, who is a professor of clinical psychology at Bath University said that all phobias were cureable.

But he added: “They don't all require the same treatments.”

 

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